Now that it’s summer, I’ve actually found a little time to do things out of pure leisure. One activity that particularly gets put on the back burner during the school year is reading— anything besides textbooks, at least. I had Fat Girl Walking: Sex, Food, Love and Being Comfortable in Your Skin… Every Inch of It by Brittany Gibbons on my bedside table, waiting to be cracked open for about a week before I finished up finals. I took it with me on my trip to visit family in the midwest, and finished it in one sitting on my three hour flight.
Fat Girl Walking was written by blogger and body advocate, Brittany Gibbons (aka Brittany Herself). You may recognize her from her Ted Talk, or perhaps her appearance on Good Morning America wearing little to nothing and embracing every inch of her body. Self-proclaimed “internet’s token fat girl,” Brittany is known for being herself, unapologetically.
While the book jumps around a little bit chronologically, the memoir brings you through Brittany’s childhood, adolescence, college years and present life. I’ll admit, I had only vaguely recognized Brittany prior to reading this book, but even if you aren’t familiar with her at all, this book will have a story for you… and you’ll probably end up falling in love with her by the end.
Growing up with the label “fat” myself, I could relate to a lot of Brittany’s experiences— from the moment you realize you’re different than the other kids (because they tell you so), to how it affects your romantic relationships throughout adolescence (like taking what you can get because you are surprised anybody wants you in the first place). But mostly, I loved reading about how she came to overcome, or at least outsmart, the pressures of having a fuller figure. Her accounts prove that with no matter what your body shape, you can still be loved, beautiful, successful, and fulfilled in every way.
What I love most about this book is the authenticity of Brittany’s voice. This isn’t a happily ever after, because loving and accepting your body after a lifetime of being told you shouldn’t is an ongoing process. But, this isn’t a “poor me” book either. Brittany is honest in her hiccups (and there are many) in self-love, along with her relationships, sexcapades, and even motherhood… because she’s only human just like the rest of us. Her strength to get back on the horse repeatedly is inspiring for others who may be struggling with the rigid standards of beauty in place today. Heck, it might even inspire you to wear a bikini on the internet yourself.
Some of her anecdotes are light hearted and silly (hint: kegel balls), while others will have you shaking your head in empathy. I was constantly trying to stifle laughs and gasps while reading on the plane, and still got some curious stares from my neighbors. If I had to sum the book up in a sentence, it would be: “It’s shitty that fat girls have a hard time growing up, but this series of sometimes funny, sometimes frustrating events shows that it’ll all be okay… even if you’re still fat.”
Everyone struggles with something, and while I wouldn’t call Brittany graceful from her tales, she has a fun way of letting us all know that it’s all going to work out. She encourages us to not hide what we perceive to be our flaws, but embrace them, and maybe flaunt them, as parts of what make us whole… and beautiful at that. Skinny, fat, anything in between— I totally recommend this book to ladies of all shapes and backgrounds. By the end, you’ll feel live you’ve gained a new best friend (because seriously, this book is full of hilarious and sometimes heartbreaking TMI moments).
You can purchase a hardcover, audio, or kindle version of Fat Girl Walking on Amazon.